Numbers 25:7 KJV

7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; 8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed 14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian

God had instructed them to put outside the camp anyone who had killed or touched a dead body

Numbers 31:19 KJV

And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.

Not much is said about Phinehas purifying himself or staying outside the camp after this incident

1) Did Phinehas purify himself after this incident

2) Could it be that Phinehas was exempted from this law

  • 3
    Phinehas was given the covenant of an everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:13) and there was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore (Psalm 106:30). There is no information as to whether, or not, he abode without seven days and purified. It is not recorded and it would be speculation to comment one way or the other.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 12:08
  • @PerryWebb The OP's question quotes the necessity of purification upon 'killing any person'. Not touching the dead body and not immediately succumbing (though it doesn't take long with a spear through the abdomen) are not relevant criteria.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 3:28
  • Sorry, I thought he was quoting about touching dead bodies until I read the context of the verse. I'm not the one who down-voted his question. So, I don't know why it was down-voted.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


Please Note: The article below is a very opinionated piece - I offer it only for the interesting comment made (in bold) that speaks to the OP's question.


"The Complete Book of Numbers" - David Plotz (Slate magazine)

Chap. 31...Moses dispatches his army, which quickly kills the five Midianite kings and slaughters all the Midianite men. ... What is particularly poignant is that Moses himself seems to know that this massacre of innocents is wrong. He orders his death squads to stay outside of camp after they finish their butchery. They need a week away from the Tabernacle to purify themselves. The Bible never mentions such a quarantine for Israelite soldiers after other battles. But, as Moses recognizes, these killings are not war, they are murder, and they defile his people.

Num. 31:6 - And Moses(4872) sent(7971) them to the war,(6635) a thousand(505) of tribe(4294) them, and Phinehas(6372) the son(1121) of Eleazar(499) the priest,(3548) to the war,(6635) with the holy(6944) instruments,(3627) and the trumpets(2689) to blow(8643) in his hand.(3027)

Num. 31:7 - And they warred(6633) against(5921) the Midianites,(4080) as(834) the LORD(3068) commanded(6680) (853) Moses;(4872) and they slew(2026) all(3605) the males.(2145)

Moses wasn't wroth until they returned with dreaded captives; otherwise, perhaps they wouldn't have needed the purification that followed, because the war was commanded by Yahweh.

After the slaughter at Shechem, Jacob was wringing his hands and expecting judgment/calamity. However, after he heard from Elohim, Jacob told the people to 'clean up' (as in take a bath?) and change their clothes. After what follows this scene (going to Beth-El), it almost looks like Elohim may have condoned the slaughter at Shechem as 'Godly zeal' for the defiling of Dinah.

Gen. 35:2 - Then Jacob(3290) said(559) unto(413) his household,(1004) and to(413) all(3605) that(834) with(5973) him, Put away(5493) (853) the strange(5236) gods(430) that(834) among(8432) you, and be clean,(2891) and change(2498) your garments:(8071)

Anyway, interesting question by OP. Still looking for mention of this subtle distinction in commentaries.

Side Note: One article mentioned that misunderstood "godly zeal" caused atrocities as the Crusades and other 'cleansings' in His name.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.